Every baseball-related kid that's ever grown up in this area has dreamed of one day playing for the Cardinals, and someday hitting their first home run over the fences at Busch Stadium.
Well, senior Aaron Schnurbusch might still be a few years away from accomplishing the former, but he did pull off the latter on Sunday, becoming the first high school player ever to hit an actual over-the-fence home run at the new Busch Stadium, in a 5-2 win for the Wildcats over rival .
"I was just thinking 'stay fair, please stay fair'," Schnurbusch said. "It was a hanging curveball, and I knew I put a good swing on it. I was running hard, because I thought it might hit the fence. But I saw it go over, and I thought, 'awesome, it went out.'"
The homer also was the first of his high school career for Schnurbusch, who normally bats leadoff for Eureka, and uses his speed and line-drive hitting to spark the Wildcat offense.
"He's a great athlete," Lafayette coach Scott DeNoyer said. "I've known him for years; what a great kid. And that's like a dream come true to hit a home run here. Knowing we were going to play here, I had a dream last night of hitting a homer here. So that's just an awesome thing for that kid."
And the whole day proved an awesome experience for all the players on both teams, as not only did the Eureka and Lafayette varsity teams get to play, so did many of the junior varsity players, who also made the trek downtown for the game.
The Wildcats and Lancers were granted 2 1/2 hours time on the field, and once the actual game ended with just about an hour left, DeNoyer and Eureka coach Jim Daffron organized an impromptu practice game, so the JV players could get on the field, too.
"Our kids just had a blast," Daffron said. "We play a game down here every year, usually against (Rockwood Summit High), but they had to pull out, and we were worried if we didn't find a game, we might lose our slot down here.
"So I called up ol' Coach DeNoyer and said you guys want to play. And fortunately, he took us up on it, and it's been a great day for everybody."
Several hundred fans from the two schools made it to the game as well, and nearly everyone cheered wildly when Schnurbusch's blast bounced just over the fence near the 335-foot sign in right field.
"I'm just glad we won the game," Schnurbusch said. "That is a memory I'll have my whole life though. It's pretty cool."
So cool that Schnurbusch was interviewed by sportscaster Rene Knott after the game, for a segment that will be featured on the KSDK-Newschannel 5 Sunday night newscast and Sports Plus television show.
Teammate Matt Hasenbeck also will appear in the segment. He was the winning pitcher for the Wildcats, and he drove in what proved to be the game-winning run with a double in the bottom of the sixth inning.
When Lafayette loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, Hasenbeck gave way to junior teammate Austin Tinsley, who got a ground ball and a strikeout for the final two outs to save the game.
"Because of where we were, I had a little bit different strategy," DeNoyer said. "I didn't want to take a chance that we'd have time left over. So I was really trying to make sure we got everybody in the game.
"We changed pitchers more often than normal. And if we were playing somewhere else, I might've made a few different choices. But we all had fun. Even the kid that gave up the lead, had a good time. So we're happy how today went."
Schnurbusch's homer was the only run of the game, until the fourth inning, when Lafayette got on the board, thanks to a pair of hits by seniors William DuPont and Kyle Hanlon.
Then in the fifth inning, Lafayette went up 2-1, after a triple by Connor Walk and a sacrifice fly by Nick Burdell.
Eureka's sixth inning rally, which was sparked by a leadoff single by Schnurbusch, included five straight hits and a hit batter.
And before it was over, the Wildcats had scored four times to take the lead over Lafayette, which is now 11-6-1 this season.
The Lancers are still 6-1 in Suburban West Conference play, one game ahead of Eureka, which is now 10-5 and 5-1 in league games.
Both clubs will be right back in action on Monday, with Eureka traveling to Rockwood Summit High for a 4:15 p.m. game.
Lafayette, on the other hand, has a home game on Monday, against Seckman High at 4:15 p.m.
UPCOMING BASEBALL SCHEDULES
4/23 at Summit 4:15 pm 4/23 vs. Seckman 4:15 pm
4/24 vs. Northwest 4:15 pm 4/24 vs. Mehlville 4:15 pm
4/25 at Northwest 4:15 pm 4/25 at Mehlville 4:15 pm
4/26 at Lindbergh 4:15 pm 4/27 vs. Fox 4:15 pm
4/28 vs. Rock Bridge 1 pm 4/30 at Northwest 4:15 pm